Off You Go!

After a fairly disastrous reign, Mary, Queen of Scots abdicated her throne on July 24, 1567 in favor of her infant son, James. Like her son, Mary came to her throne young—she was only six days old when her father died. She was raised mostly in France, where she was engaged and later married to the dauphin, while her mother, the Frenchwoman Marie de Guise, … Continue reading Off You Go!

A Brief But Happy Marriage

On April 24, 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots married Francois, Dauphin of France in a glittering ceremony that put her on the road to a brief reign as Queen of France. Like most noble marriages of the time, this one was arranged for political reasons. The death of Mary’s father within just a few days of her birth left Scotland vulnerable, a situation Henry VIII … Continue reading A Brief But Happy Marriage

Heads Will Roll

On February 8, 1587, Mary, former Queen of Scotland, officially wore out her welcome in England. After an almost 20 year imprisonment, she was executed at Fotheringhay Castle after being implicated in the Babington Plot against Queen Elizabeth’s life. She was 44 years old when she died.

Mary’s life has been much romanticized in the four centuries since her death, and while she wasn’t a bad person necessarily, she was a pretty good example of why an inherited monarchy isn’t always such a good idea. She tried, but she was flighty and giddy and very unsuited to her job. Though to be fair, the cards were pretty much stacked against her from the get-go.

Scotland, at the time, was a difficult country full of fractious nobles with too much power and all seeming to lay claim to the throne. It took a firm hand to rule them. Mary was six days old when she inherited the throne. As a child, she was betrothed to the eldest son of Henry II of France, and at the age of five she was sent to France to be raised alongside her fiance, Francois. By the time she returned to Scotland in 1561 (following Francois’s death), she was more French than Scottish; a stranger in her own land. Scotland, at that time, was undergoing some major religious upheaval, with many people turning from Catholicism to Protestantism. Mary was a devout Catholic. Mary tried to appease the Protestants by tolerating the new religion and inviting several Protestants to join her Privy Council. Many of her countrymen, however, still viewed her with suspicion.

Continue reading “Heads Will Roll”